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DECEMBER 2007

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Matthew 7:24-25

Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock:And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock.

 

According to the website, implosionsareablast.com, the scientific definition of implosion is, "The engineering and scientific expertise required of the blasters to bring down a large structure, safely, within a small pre-defined "footprint". It takes some planning to destroy buildings and bridges and stadiums safely and efficiently. But I find it interesting that it takes a lot less time to destroy than it does to build.

God is a builder. He says in Matthew 16:18, "on this rock I will build My church." That rock is the Truth that Peter has just confessed, " "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Paul was a builder and he wants us to be builders. In 1 Corinthians 3:10 Paul writes, "According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it." A good builder needs a good foundation, a good blueprint, good materials and skilled workers. Building requires diligence, time and money. As Christian builders our foundation is Christ, our blueprint is the Bible, our materials are Love and Truth, our workers are Christians who are sealed with the Holy Spirit and have a zeal for the things that please God.

Satan is a destroyer. Satan knows just how to set the charges so that he can implode many of the things that Paul and others have diligently built over the years. Then he convinces those who are not Spirit-led to build his way on the ground that used to belong to the Lord.

A question I keep asking myself today is, "Am I a builder or a destroyer when it comes to the work of the Lord?" Over the years, I have been used of the Lord to reach some with the Gospel, but are there those that I have turned aside and whose spiritual lives have been destroyed because of my teaching or actions? Unbelievers may find the preaching of the cross offensive (Galatians 5:11}, but we should never intentionally be offensive.

A destroyer is often tearing something down so that it can be replaced. Are we replacing the Gospel of the Bible with the Gospel of man? Why do we seem so reluctant to speak of eternal issues and of the need for repentance? Why have we gotten away from the idea of the need for conversion? Why are we reluctant to tell those who are "seekers" that they are really "lost?" Are we being honest with them?

Have we begun equating "building the church" with building the church building and the attendance of those who use the building? Many churches have become "non-profit" businesses. Businesses can do a lot of good things, but the church is not an organization or a business. It is a group of people who are functioning as one with the Lord in their worship of Him and service to Him. In 1st Corinthians 12:27, the local church is likened unto a body. It is a place where we enjoy the presence of the Lord and where we consider Him to be "Lord". That is, He tells us what to do, we don't tell Him how to do His work. I have wondered if the Lord were to actually show up physically at one of our organizations that we call church, if He would even be welcome. And if He was welcomed, would he feel at home there?

These are questions that I ask myself, because someday I am going to meet the Lord and I am going to have to give an account. Is the Lord going to consider me a builder or a destroyer?

 

Meditation for the week of December 2, 2007

1John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear, because fear involves torment. But he who fears has not been made perfect in love.

 

Fear can be good. Fear usually refers to a feeling of agitation and anxiety caused by the presence or imminence of danger1. If fear causes us to run from danger, then it is good. However, fear can be the result of faulty thinking, and then it is bad.

Many of us have unreasonable fears. We fear getting cancer when there is no indication that we have it or that we are likely to get it. Of course, fearing that we may get it will likely cause us stress, and stress is being studied as one of the reasons why some people get cancer. Many of us fear the things that we know we cannot control. In my case, I tend to fear getting up in the middle of the night and finding that the furnace has given up the ghost or that there is water running somewhere where it shouldn't be running. I am not enough of a handyman with the proper tools to correct these problems, and so I wonder what I would do if these things should happen when a repairman is not available to help. I have lived for over 35 years of married life and have never had a problem arise when help was not available, but that doesn't stop me from fearing that it might. Why do we have these fears? If we are Christians, is it because we really don't believe God means it when he says that we are of more value than the sparrows for which He provides? Do we think we are alone in this life and that the Lord is not going to meet our needs and protect us? (See Matthew 6: 25-34). I suspect that our fears are based on the fact that we really have more confidence in ourselves than in the Lord, and we know that we are not sufficient to handle all the problems that could arise in our lives.

We see bad things happening to good people all the time. They have car accidents, their children get sick and die, or their spouses die untimely deaths. This last week some were shot by a young man who then took his own life in an Omaha shopping mall. We wonder how we could take these things if they happened to us. The Lord does not promise to spare His children from the real problems of living in this world. However, we shouldn't forget that the Lord has told us that He gives grace to meet these needs should they happen (see 1 Corinthians 12:9). Paul had a problem that he wanted the Lord to remove and he prayed earnestly three times that the Lord would. But instead of removing the problem, He showed Paul that Paul was strongest when he was weakest. When we are weak we can't depend upon ourselves, and then we find out that we must depend upon the Lord. We don't get the salvation that God has provided until we realize that we are helpless to save ourselves, and we don't get the grace to meet the difficulties of life that occur after we are saved until we find out that we are not sufficient to fix the problems ourselves.

Sometimes fear is not fear and trembling but the reverential awe which results from love and trust, particularly in our relationship with God. God is to be feared reverentially, and the wise preacher writes in Proverbs 9:10, gThe fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.h When we fear God, we recognize His power and His right to control our lives. But if we really love Him and trust Him, we should have the same confidence in the Lord that young children have in their parents. We should expect Him to take care of us. He may discipline us to make us better children (Heb 12:6), but we should never think that He is going to leave us to flounder when life seems to be falling apart.

I don't think we can truly love someone that we don't trust. So if we love the Lord it means that we also trust Him. If we trust Him and He has promised to take care of us, then why should we fear? Perfect love casts out the wrong kind of fear.

 

1Dictionary.com. The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/fear (accessed: December 07, 2007).

 

Meditation for the week of December 9, 2007

Exodus 3:3 Then Moses said, "I will now turn aside and see this great sight, why the bush does not burn."

 

Exodus 32:8 "They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them. They have made themselves a molded calf, and worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, 'This is your god, O Israel, that brought you out of the land of Egypt!'"

Most of us like to follow a fire truck as long as it isn't headed toward our house or toward the houses of those we love. Many of us find a fire fascinating and fighting a fire gives us a sense of excitement. But most fires go out.

Moses turned aside to see a fire that was not going out. To see this "great sight" he had to get off the path he was on. While our passage says the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses, it turns out that God Himself did the speaking. So Moses took time to turn aside to see something that the Lord used to get his attention. In doing so, Moses met and talked to God Almighty.

Life is like that. Unless something causes us to change direction, most of us would travel the easy path that the Lord likens to a broad way with many on it (Matthew 7:13). What could possibly cause us to "turn aside and see" so that we might meet and talk to God?

The great sight that most see this time of the year is the sight of the Lord Jesus as a baby in a manger. Babies and new life make us all wonder at the miraculous nature of life itself. In one sense we know exactly what it takes to bring a new life into this world. We marvel at the promise and potential and even the innocence of the newly born. But while we know what brings life into this world and while we are used in the process, we know that we do not produce life. Only God can do that. Every person born into this world is testimony to the fact that "God is" (Hebrews 11:6).

When Moses turned aside to see, he not only found out that "God is", but he found out that God always was and always will be. This is where the abstract God of Genesis became a personal reality to the nation of Israel. The Ever-Existing One had "come down" to bring the children of Israel "up" (Exodus 3:8). I believe that Moses had met the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus.

The Lord Jesus "came down" from heaven in order that He might "bring us up". There is a greater sight than the sight of the manger that should cause us to turn aside to see this time of the year. That sight is the sight of the Lord Jesus dying on an old rugged cross. And then the sight of an empty tomb after His resurrection should stop us in our tracks and turn us aside to see the One who was burned but not consumed. The Lord Jesus bore the fiery judgment of God, but it didn't consume Him. The empty tomb gives us the assurance that the Lord not only died to bear the punishment our sins deserved, but He now lives to make intercession for us.

People who have rejected Christ will ultimately be cast into the Lake of Fire. The fact that they will not be consumed should also cause us to "turn aside to see". In addition, the nation of Israel has been dispersed from the land that the Lord originally gave them because of their national rejection of this Ever-Existing One. It was the leaders of the nation of Israel that convinced the crowd and Pilate to crucify the Lord. However, the Jews have maintained their identity wherever they have gone. One day a repentant nation will be completely restored to their place in the land of Israel. They have been burned but not consumed.

We need to "turn aside to see" so that we can let God speak to us. And after He has spoken peace to our souls and has redeemed us from going down to the pit, may we not "turn aside quickly' from the path of obedience to Him.

 

Meditation for the week of December 16, 2007

Luke 2:9-12

And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger."

 

There is usually joy when a healthy baby is born into this world. When the Lord was born, there was the manifestation of the glory of God—I wonder if that glory looked like a superb display of the northern lights coming from the angel. There were angels, and there was joy. This was the event for which Israel was supposedly waiting. But wait a minute. God didn't do this right, now did He?

In order to be the mother of the Lord, Mary had to appear to be a "loose woman" since she was not married. Isaiah was clear that a virgin would conceive (Isaiah 7:14), but how many unmarried young women have children out of wedlock without committing immorality? Even though Joseph her husband and others accepted what God had done, I have no doubt that the stigma of being conceived before His folks married, was something that the Lord lived with as He grew up. I am sure that the miracle of the Lord's conception was something that Mary and Joseph told others, and I am sure that most that heard their story snickered and said, "Sure! Sure!"

The Lord was to be born a King, but this Jesus came from a humble family. One would expect a king to grow up in Jerusalem and not in Nazareth. The Messiah should at least have his family believe in him, but the Lord's did not until after the resurrection (John 7:5). The nation did not understand that their Messiah was to suffer and die before He came to reign, so even though there was joy at the Lord's birth there was also sorrow. Mary was told that a "sword would pierce her soul (Luke 2:35)." This child would suffer. His mother would suffer vicariously. This child was to be rejected and ridiculed. He was not accepted by the Jews as the promised Messiah. How could this be God's will? How could this bring joy?

When we understand that the baby at Bethlehem was destined to be the Christ of the Cross because He was born to be the Savior, then and then only will we understand why there was joy "to all people". This time of the year we see a lot of manger scenes. I have been thinking that I should put three crosses in my yard with a light on the middle cross and a sign that says, "Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15)." True joy comes when we realize that death could not hold the Lord in the grave. He lives and He is coming again. The joy that is evidenced by the angels when one sinner repents and believes (see Luke 15:10) is the true joy of this season.

The Lord said in John 14:3 just before his crucifixion, "And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also." Unbelief caused the nation of Israel to miss their Messiah when He came the first time. Unbelief will cause those who have rejected him to be deceived when He comes again. In 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12 we read, "And for this reason God will send them strong delusion, that they should believe the lie, that they all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness."

The Lord's second coming will be much like His first. Most will be convinced that His coming didn't really happen, and that those who suddenly disappeared were not really caught away by the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:17). Not only will they miss out on the joy of going to heaven without dying, but they will miss out on the joy of spending eternity with this One Who was born in the City of David, Who was announced by angels, Who was foretold in the prophetic Scriptures, Who proved Himself to be the Messiah by His miracles and teaching, Who died on a cross and rose from the dead, and Who is coming again.

 

Meditation for the week of December 23, 2007

Matthew 6:33 "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."

 

The Lord wants us to put Him first. We often say that our purpose for being put on this earth is to glorify or to bring honor to God. We do that when He becomes first in our trust, in our decisions, in our love, and in our obedience.

The "firsts" of the Bible are instructive. We are to put God first--that is how to be blessed. The first day of the week is the day when the Lord was raised from the dead and the day when most Christians worship the resurrected Lord. The Lord's first coming provided the world a Savior. There are last which shall be first in the Bible since the way God does things is often different than the way man does things.

But there are some "seconds" in the Bible that are also instructive. We need a second birth (John 3:3) in order to avoid the second death (Revelation 20:14) and to be prepared for the Lord's second coming. John 1, verses 12 through 13, explain what is meant by that second birth, "But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God." We are born again or born from above or given new life when we trust in the authority, reputation, and the character of the Lord. That is what a person's "name" represents. When we believe that the Lord has the right and the ability to save us, when we believe that His reputation proves that He is the Son of God, when we believe that because of His character He does not and cannot lie to us when He says that He died to save us, then we are born the second time; and we begin a new journey with the Living Savior.

We are putting one year behind us and we are about to celebrate the first day of another new year. As we begin this new year, it would be a good time to ask ourselves if we are really born the second time by faith in the Lord so that we can avoid the second death. The second death will be a place of eternal conscious punishment in a lake that burns with fire and brimstone. This lake will contain the fearful, the unbelieving, the abominable, murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars. These are people that persisted in their sin rather than having their sins forgiven (Revelation 21:8) so that God could make them His Saints or His Holy Ones. Those who go to this place will not be keeping good company.

If we are born the second time, are we living a self-serving life, or are we putting the Lord first? In some parts of this world, there are people who are paying dearly for having and reading the Bible and for worshiping the One true God in the way that He has asked us to worship Him. In the United States many of us have become so complacent that we couldn't find our Bibles to read them if we tried. Yet we say that we are Christians. As the first day of another year approaches, this would be a good time to reassess our relationship with the Lord. This would be a good time to find a Bible and to start reading it to find out just what does please the Lord. This would be a good time to make sure that we are putting the Lord first so that He can prove to us that He will take care of us and meet our practical needs.

 

Meditation for the week of December 30, 2007